Your own personal army, helping to keep you at your best
When we’re feeling fine and living our best lives, it’s easy to forget all about what our immune system does for us. After all, it’s silently working 24/7 behind the scenes to keep us safe. If you’re wondering how it does its thing and you want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place. Take a seat and let’s dive in.
Why do I need an immune system?
Your immune system is exactly that – a system. Lots of different cells, tissues and organs in your body, all working together, with their own part to play. This super clever tag team spots the difference between your body cells and harmful cells, like bacteria and viruses, that could make you sick if they were left to run wild. It works hard to keep you healthy and protect you against any nasties.
How does my immune system work?
Let’s get technical for a sec and break it down. There are two main parts to your immune system, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. Stick with us. Imagine your innate immune system as the first line of defence on the battlefield. We’re born with this part, it’s fast acting and non-specific which means it targets and destroys anything it sees as being harmful. The adaptive immune system is slightly fancier. Constantly learning as we go through life, it’s able to remember and recognise anything that it’s come in contact with in the past. This helps it to be able to quickly sweep up and bin bad cells the next time they enter your body.
How do I know if my immune system needs some TLC?
If you catch every cold going and it takes you a while to shake it off, or maybe you’re always feeling tired and worn out, take note. It could be time to focus your attention on showing your immune system a little extra love. It’s not a crazy coincidence, either, if you tend to get sick just as you’re preparing for that big meeting at work or you’re going through a rough patch at home. Sky high stress levels can really affect how well your immune system can work. Listening to your body and knowing when it’s time for you to take the reins and look after your immune system – instead of it being the other way around – is important.
How can I take care of my immune system?
Just as your immune system shows you love and support every day, you’ve got to make sure you’re pulling your side of the deal to keep this sweet partnership fighting fit. Think of yourselves as the dreamy duo, the perfect power couple.
There’s not a quick fix solution to get you the best immune system going, but making small lifestyle changes can help your relationship to stand the test of time. If you look after it, it’ll look after you. Where to begin? Start with the three classic health habits we all know and love:
Filling your plate with greens, grains and healthy fats can help support your protective defence army and keep you healthy. The more colour on your plate from fruit and veg, the more variety of nourishing nutrients you’re likely to get, which your immune system will love and lap up. Vitamin and mineral supplements can help if you’re low in something specific. Vitamins A, C, D and zinc all help support the normal functioning of the immune system. If you’re eating a healthy balanced diet though, you’re probably already doing enough to keep your immune system in good shape.
To add to the long list of reasons why you should savour your slumber time, wandering around in the land of nod is key to keeping your immune system in tip-top condition. Getting enough shut-eye helps to improve the function of your immune cells. Pretty cool, right? Make bedtime your best friend. If not, your immune system might not be able to work at its best.
Get your heart pumping
Regular exercise has been shown to give a little boost to your immune system. Those who keep themselves fit and active also have a lower risk of developing many long-term health conditions, like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also lower your risk of early death by up to 30 percent (pretty incredible if you ask us!).
If you have any worries about your immune system, just shout up – see a Boots pharmacist or your GP. They’ll be more than happy to help. Class dismissed!